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Gold Unicorn by Tanith Lee
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What ages would I recommend it too? Twelve and up.

Length? Several days.

Characters? Memorable, several characters.

Setting? Fantasy, alternate dimensions.

Written approximately? 1994.

Does the story leave questions in the readers mind? Ready to read more.

Any issues the author (or a more recent publisher) should cover? No.

Short storyline: Tanaquil's journeys.

Notes for the reader: Something about this novel was off. To avoid a spoiler, one part, Tanaquil should have picked up on, and didn't. Maybe that's what bothers me so much about it. ( )
  AprilBrown | Feb 25, 2015 |
Gold Unicorn is the sequel to Black Unicorn, published five years later. You can detect some changes in the author's writing style. She doesn't go into so much lavish description, which made me sad, and the story itself has a more juvenile narration but fairly dark and bleak subject matter, which is an odd combination.

Tanaquil and the peeve have been traveling the world for a year at the start of the story, and she is on her way home. She begins to hear about a wicked empress named Veriam who is out to conquer the world. But when Tanaquil is captured by the empress's army, she discovers that this evil woman is in fact her sister, Lizra.

Inspired by Tanaquil's story of a "perfect world" Lizra has taken it as her God-given duty to create her own version of said "Heaven" where everyone is unified under one ruler - her, of course! Her emblem will be a huge war machine fashioned in the shape of a gigantic unicorn made of iron plated with gold. The only problem is she needs Tanaquil, with her talent for machinery, to make it run. But can anyone control a unicorn - even one made of iron and gold?

The story is very bleak, as an unhappy Tanaquil is dragged along with the army, seeing more and more how far her little sister has gone - lost her mind, even her humanity, perhaps. There's nothing explicitly gory or violent but the hopelessness is really very palpable. This culminates with an actual trip to Hell, the mirror, of course of Tanaquil's journey in the first book.

It's actually pretty strange, not just because of the dark subject matter - it's not like kid's books shouldn't ever be allowed to be scary - but in the sense of hopelessness. Tanaquil has power, but she's often used by it. She has a strong personality and wants to be in control, but she never is. Then she lashes out at people who don't deserve it - even on the very last page of the book I found her refusal to travel with the older wizard simply way too spiteful. The ending itself is far more bittersweet than it is happy. Things are resolved, but everyone is left a little broken and a little bitter. Which would be fine in an adult novel, but in a juvenile fiction with the word "unicorn" in the title? . . . not that I'm saying Gold Unicorn is a bad book, I really don't think it is. It's interesting, insightful and original. But I can also see why people wouldn't like it. And I honestly don't know what a kid would think of it.

The peeve is the best, though! I LOVE that critter. You can really tell that Lee has owned pets and she really gets animals right, which is actually something that a lot of authors fail at - writing convincing and believable animals that ACT like animals. Even though the peeve is a made-up sort of dog/cat/raccoon type creature, I could always see it clearly and I had no trouble believing it was a real creature. ( )
  catfantastic | Aug 20, 2013 |
In the sequel to Black Unicorn, Tanaquil continues her exploration of her world and ends up captured by the widely feared Empress Veriam. While with the Empress and her crew, Tanaquil is made to fix the Empress' fierce gold unicorn--her battle machine to help her conquer the world. Tanaquil and company end up in another parallel world, this one the complete opposite of the paradise Tanaquil visited in the first book.
Again, I was happy with the pace of this story. Tanaquil grew on me, and I enjoyed her subtle sarcasm and snarkiness even more. It's a quick read, only 200-something pages and worth what little time it takes to read it. ( )
  MillieHennessy | Aug 9, 2011 |
Possible spoiler alert:

I liked this better than Black Unicorn, but I'm still not sure about whether I'm going to hold on to the trilogy. I think it is good that Tanaquil got to see the hell world, so that she could see how earth is in balance. I'm disturbed by what happened with Lizra, and by the whole deal with Honj, which I'm guessing might be sorted out in the the third book. Those Mousps were cute! ( )
  t1bnotown | Feb 18, 2008 |
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To John Kaiine, My Husband and Good Angel
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Sixteen-year-old Tanaquil, the red-haired daughter of the red-haired sorceress Jaive, lives with her mother in a fortress in the desert.
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Journeying across different lands, the youthful mender Tanaquil is shocked to discover that the Empress Verian, who wishes to conquer the entire land from one sea to the next, is in fact her half-sister Lizra, who has constructed a tremendous mechanical unicorn of gold.
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Tanaquil must use her unique mending abilities to make a steam-powered unicorn constructed by Empress Veriam move, so that the Empress can gain control of an empire.

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